War Criminals Transferred to Serve their Sentences in Foreign Countries and their Right to Family Life: A Comment on the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone’s Decision in Charles Ghankay Taylor’s Motion for Termination of Enforcement of Sentence in the United Kingdom and for Transfer to Rwanda

In: The Law & Practice of International Courts and Tribunals
Jamil Ddamulira Mujuzi Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape Bellville South Africa

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The Special Court for Sierra Leone (scsl), now the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, convicted Mr. Charles Taylor of war crimes and sentenced him to 50 years’ imprisonment. On 15 October 2013, pursuant to an agreement between the scsl and the United Kingdom, Mr. Taylor was transferred to serve his sentence in the United Kingdom. In 2014, he challenged his continued imprisonment in the United Kingdom on the grounds, inter alia, that it violated his right to family life and that he should be transferred to serve his sentence in Rwanda. On 30 January 2015, the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone dismissed Mr. Charles Taylor’s application. The Court’s decision was made public on 25 March 2015. The purpose of this article is to argue that the Court’s decision did not further Mr. Taylor’s right to family life as it left many important questions unanswered. This could be attributed to the Court’s failure to refer to the relevant international human rights jurisprudence on the issue. Although in the case the Court dealt with the issue of cruel and inhuman punishment, this issue is not discussed in detail in this article. This article is mainly concerned with the right to family life.

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